Written By | Nathan Washington
Californian surf rock act The Growlers are playing Forum Melbourne tonight as part of their Australia-wide “Beach Goth” tour, bringing with them Sydney local grunge punks Pist Idiots to open the show and Australian fan favourites The Chats to follow. An interesting lineup that blends rough and heavy punk sounds with the more polished and eclectic styling of The Growlers, it’s sure to be a night with plenty of different music for everyone in the crowd, and an intense mosh too.
View more photos of Pist Idiots HERE
Pist Idiots start the show off ferociously with lead singer Jack Sniff bellowing powerful (and often times personal) lyrics over frenetic drums and heavy guitar. The devoted fans who turned up early to see them are already headbanging and dancing along as the band pumps out pure high-intensity punk for the quickly filling venue. A set filled with killer guitar riffs, plenty of audience interaction, and solos galore between the four band members, they get the crowd energy going incredibly well, showing why they’ve opened for acts such as Cosmic Psychos in the recent past, as well as why they’ve shot up the Australian scene so quickly, playing shows and festivals all over the country. The sound is loose, loud and infectious, but the instrumentation is impressive and the lyrics are humorous, dark and introspective all at once, setting them apart from other acts on the punk scene.
View more photos of The Chats HERE
The Chats are up next, quickly becoming local legends after their humorous viral hit single Smoko blew up in 2017, with some fans calling for the song to become the updated Australian national anthem. However, since this breakout success the trio have kept busy, touring all over Australia and even going on their first European stint of shows in 2018. Kicking off their set at a similar pace to Pist Idiots, lead singer and bassist Eamon starts a fast-paced bassline that drummer Matt and guitarist Josh join in on, quickly filling up the Forum with rough and raw garage rock blasting from the speakers. The comedy element of the band shines through, with lighthearted lyrics getting smiles from the crowd, while the simple but catchy hooks and riffs get the audience moving. They play an unreleased track about gonorrhea, drawing groans and laughs from the audience during its introduction, and for the rest of the set the members rock out on stage together, full of youth and energy. What they lack in lyricism and serious subject matter they make up for with a fun and catchy live performance, setting a lighthearted tone for main act to come.
View more photos of The Growlers HERE
By the time The Growlers emerge for their set, the massive floor section of Forum Melbourne is crowded with fans ready to see the Californian act fill the venue with their unique combination of surf rock, psychedelia and pop which they label as their own genre of “Beach Goth”. The band is known for gargantuan sets, and tonight is no different, launching into a mighty two hour affair after lead singer Brooks Nielsen greets the audience delightedly. Nielsen is the definition of eclectic, and not only through his unique high-pitched voice, as he spends the night posturing, pouting and taking breaks in between songs to take pulls of a suspicious-looking cigarette.
His vocals float over the crowd as the band starts out with some relaxed surf rock, washed-out guitar and splashy drums getting the audience swaying side-to-side. As the set progresses, the energy picks up, the band transitioning to more anthemic, riff-laden rock with synth undertones, and the mood changes completely when a surprise special guest appears on-stage: Kirin J Callinan. Controversial singer songwriter and cult figure Callinan, who has been featured on the American leg of the tour, joins the band on stage to great applause, holding his guitar up above his head and then letting it fall only to catch it mere centimetres from the ground, drawing gasps from the audience. The combination of Nielsen’s stage presence and Kirin’s wild thrashing and theatrics, complete with guitar spins and wild kicks during expressive solos is a sight to behold, the two working fans up into a frenzy as the night heightens in intensity.
The band, currently composed of core members Nielsen on vocals as well as lead guitarist Matt Taylor and keyboardist/guitarist Kyle Straka, are accompanied onstage by a bassist, guitarist and synth player, as well as Kirin contributing guitar for the second half of the set, and performances are excellent all around, killer guitar riffs and foundational bass evolving with the tempo of the songs. The band runs through their biggest hits with Callinan on stage, a rougher and more frenetic sound emerging as the set reaches the hour and a half mark, songs drawing out longer as extravagant and passionate solos are played, and after one final anthem Nielson gives his goodbyes to the audience as the band departs offstage with a cheeky grin, knowing they won’t be gone more than a minute before returning for one final encore, chants of “one more song” from the audience quickly rewarded. The band opts for a softer approach to their final act of the night, another floating surf rock ballad quickly becoming a singalong for everyone in the crowd, before Kirin J Callinan returns to stage and together him and Nielsen provide a fitting end to the set, one final anthem for fans to remember, with lavish vocals and powerful guitar riffs ending the night off spectacularly.
View more photos of The Growlers HERE
The Growlers made it a night to remember for new and old fans alike at the Forum, with Pist Idiots and The Chats both getting the audience energised through a blend of punk and rough garage rock before the unique charm of Brooks Nielson and the rest of The Growlers captivated the audience and a surprise appearance from Kirin J Callinan gave the night the extra energy it needed to exceed all fans’ expectations. They finish their Australian tour on 20th January, so fans in Sydney and Adelaide still have plenty to look forward to.
Photos By | Nathan Washington
See more work from Nathan Washington HERE